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CardShark Content - Brian Baker (12/15/2004)

It's been a while since I've had the pleasure and the opportunity to write for Cardshark. Those of you who have read my work before know that I'm a big-time casual player with the occasional foray into the tournament scene. Without being to presumptuous, I'd like to imagine that that pretty well describes most of you guys as well.

As I see it, there are two ways to write an article about a casual deck. One way is to simply list the deck pieces and describe why you like to play it. This is nice and simple, but a little lacking. What I prefer to do is to instead give the deck and explain some of the fundamental deckbuilding concepts behind it. The reason I like the second approach so much more is because casual players will generally not go online, find a casual deck, and copy it card-for-card, net-deck style. I figure that the main reason I write casual articles is to inspire and aid the reader, not build a deck for them.

I get inspired by weird ideas. You'd probably have a hard time convincing me that Zubera are currently tournament worthy (if that's not a challenge, I don't know what is) but they certainly have their applications in a casual setting. They illustrate a basic idea of card advantage (creatures that generate some sort of positive effect when they are destroyed) and apply a sort of scaling principle to it. The more Zubera you play, the more you have on the field. The more you lose (in a single turn,) the bigger the effect.

How do we abuse the Zubera? It's pretty obvious that we have to use their graveyard effect, since an army of 1/2s isn't going to scare anyone. The inherently limiting feature of that effect is that only so many Zubera exist, and playing vast numbers would seem to require going into four or more colors.

My Zubera deck is 2 colors, and to increase the madness, it includes only six cards with ´´Zubera´´ in the title.

Zubera Deck breakdown (60 cards):

2:Ashen-Skin Zubera
4:Ember-Fist Zubera

Huh? Only 6 Zubera, and only 2 Ashen-Skin? I assure you, there is method to the madness. The Ember-Fists are the centerpiece of the deck, and will carry the workload of killing opponents. Ashen-Skins are really there just to have more Zubera.

2:Solemn Simulacrum
Solemn Simulacrum
Solemn SimulacrumSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
4
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Rarity:
R
Number:
245
Artist:
Greg Staples
Text:
When Solemn Simulacrum comes into play, you may search your library for a basic land card and put that card into play tapped. If you do, shuffle your library. When Solemn Simulacrum is put into a graveyard from play, you may draw a card.


Our good buddy Jens is functionally much like a Zubera, and since things are going to be dying, he's a welcome addition.

2:Riptide Replicator
Riptide Replicator
Riptide ReplicatorSet: Onslaught
Cost:
2
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
309
Artist:
Doug Chaffee
Text:
As Riptide Replicator comes into play, choose a color and a creature type. Riptide Replicator comes into play with X charge counters on it. 4, T: Put an X/X creature token of the chosen color and type into play, where X is the number of charge counters on Riptide Replicator.


Because more Zubera = better Zubera. These quickly become too expensive to really function well in multiples, hence only including two, but I'm in good shape once I get one out.

4:Nantuko Husk
Nantuko Husk
Nantuko HuskSet: Onslaught
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Zombie Insect
Rarity:
C
Number:
159
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Sacrifice a creature: Nantuko Husk gets +2/+2 until end of turn.

2:Plunge into Darkness
Plunge into Darkness
Plunge into DarknessSet: Fifth Dawn
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
57
Artist:
Justin Sweet
Text:
Choose one - Sacrifice any number of creatures, then you gain 3 life for each sacrificed creature; or pay X life, then look at the top X cards of your library, put one of those cards into your hand, and remove the rest from the game. Entwine B

2:Death Pit Offering
Death Pit Offering
Death Pit OfferingSet: Nemesis
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
56
Artist:
Pete Venters
Text:
When Death Pit Offering comes into play, sacrifice all creatures you control. Creatures you control get +2/+2.

2:Devouring Rage
Devouring Rage
Devouring RageSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
5
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
164
Artist:
Vance Kovacs
Text:
As an additional cost to play Devouring Rage, you may sacrifice any number of Spirits. Target creature gets +3/+0 until end of turn. For each Spirit sacrificed this way, that creature gets an additional +3/+0 until end of turn.

2:Spawning Pit
Spawning Pit
Spawning PitSet: Darksteel
Cost:
2
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
U
Number:
141
Artist:
Tony Szczudlo
Text:
Sacrifice a creature: Put a charge counter on Spawning Pit. 1, Remove two charge counters from Spawning Pit: Put a 2/2 Spawn artifact creature token into play.


This is how Zubera are harvested, since waiting for the opponent to wipe them out isn't the wisest course of action. Picky readers will note the absence of the seemingly perfect Devouring Greed
Devouring Greed
Devouring GreedSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
110
Artist:
Vance Kovacs
Text:
As an additional cost to play Devouring Greed, you may sacrifice any number of Spirits. Target player loses 2 life plus 2 life for each Spirit sacrificed this way. You gain that much life.
, and my only response can be that Greed
Greed
GreedSet: Fourth Edition
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Phil Foglio
Text:
B: Pay 2 life to draw a card. Effects that prevent or redirect damage cannot be used to counter this loss of life.
is in another of my decks, and I'm not big on repeat performances for main kill cards.

1:Kami of Lunacy
Kami of Lunacy
Kami of LunacySet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
6
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
U
Number:
119
Artist:
Daren Bader
Power:
4
Toughness:
1
Text:
Flying Soulshift 5 (When this is put into a graveyard from play, you may return target Spirit card with converted mana cost 5 or less from your graveyard to your hand.)

2:Gibbering Kami
Gibbering Kami
Gibbering KamiSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
112
Artist:
Jim Pavelec
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying Soulshift 3 (When this is put into a graveyard from play, you may return target Spirit card with converted mana cost 3 or less from your graveyard to your hand.)

2:Nezumi Graverobber
Nezumi Graverobber
Nezumi GraverobberSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Rat Rogue
Rarity:
U
Number:
129
Artist:
Jim Nelson
Power:
2
Toughness:
1
Text:
1B: Remove target card in an opponent's graveyard from the game. If no cards are in that graveyard, flip Nezumi Graverobber. ----- Nighteyes the Desecrator Legendary Creature - Rat Wizard 4/2 4B: Put target creature card in a graveyard into play under your control.

3:Aphetto Dredging
Aphetto Dredging
Aphetto DredgingSet: Onslaught
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
125
Artist:
Monte Michael Moore
Text:
Return up to three target creature cards of the creature type of your choice from your graveyard to your hand.

2:Patriarch's Bidding
Patriarch's Bidding
Patriarch's BiddingSet: Onslaught
Cost:
5
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
161
Artist:
Ben Thompson
Text:
Each player chooses a creature type. Each player returns all creature cards of a type chosen this way from his or her graveyard to play.

2:Twilight's Call
Twilight's Call
Twilight's CallSet: Invasion
Cost:
6
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
130
Artist:
Mark Romanoski
Text:
You may play Twilight's Call any time you could play an instant if you pay 2 more to play it.Each player returns all creature cards from his or her graveyard to play.

1:Zombify
Zombify
ZombifySet: Odyssey
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
171
Artist:
Mark Romanoski
Text:
Return target creature card from your graveyard to play.


What's the fun of killing Zubera if they have to stay dead? Each of these will bring Zubera back to hand or to play. Aside from having a repeatable effect, why is this important? The wording on Zubera cards counts the number of Zubera sent to the graveyard that turn, and any one creature that manages to be killed twice in the same turn counts for 2.

Here's a hypothetical scenario: I have 3 Zubera tokens, 2 Ember-Fists, and 1 Ashen-Skin with a Spawning Pit
Spawning Pit
Spawning PitSet: Darksteel
Cost:
2
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
U
Number:
141
Artist:
Tony Szczudlo
Text:
Sacrifice a creature: Put a charge counter on Spawning Pit. 1, Remove two charge counters from Spawning Pit: Put a 2/2 Spawn artifact creature token into play.
. I can sacrifice them all, starting with tokens and then letting the abilities stack without resolving, to make an opponent drop 6 cards and deal 6 points of damage to any two targets (or one twice.) If I then Patriarch's Bidding
Patriarch's Bidding
Patriarch's BiddingSet: Onslaught
Cost:
5
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
161
Artist:
Ben Thompson
Text:
Each player chooses a creature type. Each player returns all creature cards of a type chosen this way from his or her graveyard to play.
and sacrifice again, I will also make an opponent drop 9 cards and deal 9 points of damage twice. Imagine the fun if I can Bidding again! Also, don't forget that at this point Spawning Pit
Spawning Pit
Spawning PitSet: Darksteel
Cost:
2
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
U
Number:
141
Artist:
Tony Szczudlo
Text:
Sacrifice a creature: Put a charge counter on Spawning Pit. 1, Remove two charge counters from Spawning Pit: Put a 2/2 Spawn artifact creature token into play.
is receiving quite a few counters.

Finishing out the deck:

4:Glacial Ray
Glacial Ray
Glacial RaySet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
168
Artist:
Jim Murray
Text:
Glacial Ray deals 2 damage to target creature or player. Splice onto Arcane 1R (As you play an Arcane spell, you may reveal this card from your hand and pay its splice cost. If you do, add this card's effects to that spell.)


Cause it's cool and it's in color. Also pulls double duty of defense against weenies and finishing off a Zubera-blasted opponent. Splicing onto Devouring Rage
Devouring Rage
Devouring RageSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
5
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
164
Artist:
Vance Kovacs
Text:
As an additional cost to play Devouring Rage, you may sacrifice any number of Spirits. Target creature gets +3/+0 until end of turn. For each Spirit sacrificed this way, that creature gets an additional +3/+0 until end of turn.
is fun.

1:Buried Alive
Buried Alive
Buried AliveSet: Weatherlight
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Brian Horton
Text:
Search your library for up to three creature cards and put them into your graveyard. Shuffle your library afterwards.


Self-explanatory setup for recursion. There is only one here because that's not exactly what the focus of the deck is.

10:Mountain
Mountain
MountainSet: Arabian Nights
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Tap to add R to your mana pool.

10:Swamp
Swamp
SwampSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add B to your mana pool.


Because this particular deck needs mana, lands are included.

A good friend pointed out to me shortly after the release of Champions of Kamigawa that the set is full of card advantage. I've gotten a better understanding of what he meant through the Zubera and the Splice mechanic. This deck is a blast to play because of the huge effects it can generate, plus it's very different than most of the cards seeing play nowadays.

I suppose that if there's a lesson to be learned here, and there doesn't really have to be, it's that fun and interesting casual decks can be based on simple ideas and moderate card supplies. Just because you don't own 4 (or any) Eternal Dragon
Eternal Dragon
Eternal DragonSet: Scourge
Cost:
7
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Dragon Spirit
Rarity:
R
Number:
12
Artist:
Justin Sweet
Power:
5
Toughness:
5
Text:
Flying.
3WW: Return Eternal Dragon from your graveyard to your hand. Play this ability only during your upkeep.
Plainscycling 2
s doesn't mean that you can't build a cycling deck, and there are other sides to affinity than Ravager and Broodstar
Broodstar
BroodstarSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
10
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Beast
Rarity:
R
Number:
31
Artist:
Glen Angus
Power:
*
Toughness:
*
Text:
Affinity for artifacts (This spell costs 1 less to play for each artifact you control.) Flying Broodstar's power and toughness are each equal to the number of artifacts you control.
.

So that's the deck, and all the time we have this week. Hopefully I've given you some inspiration to indulge your wacky side. Join me next time when we take a look at the landless deck!


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